Former unified Super Middleweight champion, Andre “S.O.G” Ward (29-0, 15 KOs) has firmly placed his feet in the Light Heavyweight division with no misleading intentions–he wants to challenge the IBF, WBA and WBO titleholder Sergey “Krusher” Kovalev (29-0-1, 26 KOs).
Ward is scheduled to get his chance at Kovalev as a contract has been signed for the two to face one another on November 19 at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada. This fight is highly anticipated as it will showcase two of the world’s best pound-for-pound fighters going toe to toe in what is sure to be a historic matchup.
The always deliberate Ward has created an effective road map for his path to Kovalev. Ward and HBO have a three-fight contract in place. In his first fight of the HBO contract, Ward won a unanimous decision over then undefeated power puncher, Sullivan Barrera. With this win Ward also earned the IBF’s No. 1 ranked Light Heavyweight contender position.
Some questioned that Ward would be able to seamlessly transition to his new, heavier weight class. His victory against Barrera proved otherwise as Barrera was the biggest fighter Ward has ever faced as a professional and he handled him with great conviction.
The second fight of Ward’s HBO contract is set to take place Saturday, August 6, at Oracle Arena, in his hometown of Oakland, CA, as he faces Alexander Brand (25-1, 19 Kos) for a scheduled 12-round Light Heavyweight bout.
Ward is a special caliber of gifted athlete and a rare breed of talent that only happens once every few generations. The Oakland native has won two 168-pound world titles with ease and effectively cleared out all opposition before exiting the Super Middleweight division.
Ward is the only male, American boxer to claim an Olympic gold medal within the last decade, which he obtained during the 2008 Olympic Games in Athens, Greece.
Perhaps to understand just how gifted of a boxer Ward truly is, one would need to hear one more enamoring achievement; Ward has not lost a single boxing bout since he was 12 years old.
Brand is a familiar name to the Ward camp as he was originally scheduled to make his debut as a Light Heavyweight against Brand on November 21, 2015, as the co-main event of Miguel Cotto vs. Canelo Alvarez’s Middleweight championship bout live on HBO Pay-Per-View.
Unfortunately, this bout did not occur as Ward sustained knee swelling during camp and was forced to withdraw from the matchup.
As the two are now set to cross paths again, Brand, 39, of Columbia, undoubtedly would love to be the one to derail Ward’s ascension towards Kovalev as he attempts to capitalize on this fight opportunity. Brand’s only loss is at the hands of now current WBO Super Middleweight champion Badou Jack. Since the loss, Brand has gone on to win his last eight fights. Ward, nonetheless will certainly be Brand’s toughest opponent to date.
In discussion of his upcoming bout on a recent media conference call, Ward explained his thoughts.
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As always I’m preparing my body and my mind, my spirit for war and in this case it will be August 6. I’m ready. I’m just excited to be active and I’m ready to answer any questions you guys have…he’s no bum. He’s the type of guy who puts his head down and swings for the fences. Those are very dangerous guys, and to be honest with you, it’s easier fighting the top guys with more form and more technique than it is fighting a guy who has nothing to lose.
Being a superior technician, Ward should look to out box Brand, staying operative behind his jab and catching him with effective blows as he comes in. Ward is known as a very intelligent and highly composed fighter who is not easily shaken or taken off of his game plan.
Ward is consistent in his speed, power and fighting style. He is deliberate and also highly defensive; he will make you miss, and then make you pay.
Ward knows he must focus on his current task at hand and not look too far ahead. “I have to compartmentalize what I have to do right now. That’s just kind of how I operate and how I stay focused. I don’t want to juggle two opponents right now. I have to focus on one guy and that’s Alexander Brand on August 6. I will not take him lightly,” said Ward.
“If I’m not successful August 6, there is no fight down the road with me and Kovalev and I’m very clear about that it’s not just a fight for me. It’s very important for me to look good in that fight, to my standard and to my team’s standard. I have a certain amount of pressure on myself to go out there, perform and hopefully, look good doing it” said Ward.
Ward’s ability to focus, his abundant success, and spotless technique however are not in question. Ward should beat Brand without a doubt. The real question is can he do it severely enough to strike fear throughout the 175-pound division?
Kovalev knows Ward is coming for him, but a highly-venomous performance this Saturday would certainly put some exclamation behind his coming attack.